The Always “like a girl” campaign

You may know about the controversies around the Dove “Real Beauty” ad campaign and related videos. Now the Always product line has entered the fray,  As MS magazine reports, “Last week, Always released a new commercial that challenges the notion that doing something “like a girl” means anything less than doing it well.imgres-1

“The ad first features people who are supposedly auditioning for a commercial. When the director (who is a woman) tells them to “run like a girl” or “fight like a girl,” the actors make themselves look weak and silly while half-heartedly performing the actions. Then, the commercial changes to show young girls performing the same activities “like a girl”—but they act out running and fighting as fast and as fierce as they can. The commercial asks the audience: When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?

“The director asks the actors what happens to girls when they are told that behaving like a girl or performing an action like a girl is considered a negative thing, particularly when they are approaching puberty and trying to discover themselves while getting past insecurities. One actor, when asked what advice she would give young girls who are told they do something “like a girl,” says: ‘Keep doing it, ’cause it’s working. If somebody else says that running like a girl, or kicking like a girl, or shooting like a girl is something that you shouldn’t be doing, that’s their problem. Because if you’re still scoring, and you’re still getting to the ball on time, and you’re still being first, you’re doing it right. It doesn’t matter what they say. I mean, yes. I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl, and I walk like a girl, and I get up in the morning like a girl because I am a girl. And that is not something I should be ashamed of, so I’m going to do it anyway. That’s what they should do.” Continue reading “The Always “like a girl” campaign”

American demographics seen through ads

“Demographic change,” Paul Taylor explains in The Atlantic, “is a drama in slow motion.” The United States is undergoing two simultaneous transformations. It’s becoming a majority non-white country, and a record number of Americans are aging.

But this kind of change is paradoxical—”even though it happens all around us, it’s sometimes hard to see.” As Taylor, who researches demographic and generational changes at the Pew Research Center, observed, “You don’t hold a press conference to announce that we’re becoming older or becoming majority non-whites.”

During a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Taylor showed three ads that aired during the football game or shortly thereafter.

One, a Cheerios commercial, showed a black father and a white mother telling their biracial daughter, via cereal, that they were expecting a baby boy (the ad was a sequel to a controversial spot that ran last spring).

The second ad, a divisive Coca-Cola commercial, featured Americans of various ages, races, and religions singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages.

The third, from Chevrolet, depicted an assortment of families—a heterosexual couple with one child, multi-generational households, single parents, a gay couple with two kids. “While what it means to be a family hasn’t changed, what a family looks like has,” the narrator says. “This is the new us.”

If these commercials had footnotes, they might look something like these charts, from Taylor’s “Next America” study for Pew. (Note that in the third graph, on the immigrant share of the population, the U.S. is actually returningto its makeup before a wave of immigration restrictions between the 1920s and 1960s.)

Corporations, Taylor pointed out, generally aren’t the ones affecting social change—they’re the ones affirming it. “Product advertisers are not in the business of making political statements, and they’re certainly not in the business of making political enemies, not when they’re spending $4 million for 30 seconds before the biggest national audience we have,” he said. “Each of them surely knew, because they focus-group these things to death, and they market-research these things to death, that if you have images of parents who are opposite race and same sex, and if you have ‘America the Beautiful’ being sung in six or seven different languages, you are going to offend some portion of your customer base.”

Clearly, the calculation at Coca-Cola, General Mills, and General Motors was that those outraged customers would be in the minority.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/06/americas-demographic-revolution-in-super-bowl-ads/373639/

Why youth obsession is bad for business

“Why does the TV business hate people over 50?” That’s one of the most common questions I get asked by viewers.images

This is not an idle query, writes Scott Collins in the Los Angeles Times

“The TV industry, like much of corporate America, chases youth. That pursuit has a major impact on programming. It helps explain why a low-rated show such as NBC’s “Community” can keep going (and going, and going …) while older-skewing shows are usually toast. Even if they have more total viewers.

“So now you know why “Harry’s Law,” the legal drama with sexagenarian Kathy Bates, is no longer on the air. NBC executives said as much when they canceled the show.

“Most TV networks are chasing viewers in the “demo,” or the demographic ages 18 to 49 as measured by Nielsen. But how and why did that happen? And is that even rational?

“The first question is easier to answer. During the early years of commercial TV, Nielsen estimated total audiences. It sounds ridiculous in our tech-savvy world, but back then Nielsen’s measurements depended largely on written diaries that members of each household in the survey were obligated to fill out. That’s how we know, for example, that 73-million people watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan’s show in February 1964. It’s also why network TV aimed for mass audiences and maintained conventions such as a “family hour,” when parents and kids could sit down together to watch shows. This led critics to charge that executives were programming a “lowest common denominator” medium — a “vast wasteland,” in the timeless phrase of former FCC chief Newton Minow — that weeded out minority views and tastes. But it was how TV worked for 40 years. Continue reading “Why youth obsession is bad for business”

Sex sells? Think again

images-2The backlash against sex­ual imagery in the media is gathering steam as feminists and child-protection experts make common cause with conservatives, religious groups and, yes, the Daily Mail to decry what they see as degrading attitudes to women.

A British marketing consultation firm recently ran the below story warning companies to back off on “sex sells” thinking.

“From the Prime Minister’s online porn clampdown, announced last week, to the continuing campaigns against lads’ mags and The Sun’s Page 3 models, UK media is on notice that the gratuitous use of raunchy images is becoming unacceptable.

 “David Cameron’s plan for ISPs to automatically activate filters, which users would have to turn off to access porn, sounds to many people like a sensible balance between protecting children from inappropriate material and respecting adults’ rights – and any move designed to tackle child sexual exploitation is widely applauded. But some worry that adult sexuality and child abuse are being deliberately lumped together to promote repressive and prudish attitudes to sex.

“The issue is riven with contradictions. Cameron was somewhat at a loss last week to explain why The Sun’s “tit pics” – widely seen by children across the country – are acceptable when online porn is not. However, his reply that buying the newspaper is a free consumer choice might have something to it. The Sun’s circulation has fallen by 40 per cent over the past decade to 2.25 million, arguably a reflection of the growing distaste for a publication that uses breasts to promote itself.  Continue reading “Sex sells? Think again”

You’ve not come a long way baby

In 1968, the Phillip Morris Company launched a memorable campaign to sell Virginia Slims, a new brand of cigarettes targeting women, itself a new phenomenon. It had a brand-new slogan: “You’ve come a long way, baby.

As a thoughtful piece by Ruth Rosen in today’s edition of Le Monde explains, “The company plastered it on billboards nationwide and put it in TV ads that featured women of the early

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twentieth century being punished for smoking. In all their advertising, smoking was equated with a set of traits meant to capture the essence of women in a new era of equality — independence, slimness, glamour, and liberation

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“As it happened, the only equality this campaign ended up supporting involved lung cancer. Today, women and men die at similar rates from that disease.Still, women have come a long way since the mid-twentieth century, and it’s worth considering just how far — and just how far we have to go.

Once upon a time

“These days it may be hard for some to believe, but before the women’s movement burst on the scene in the late 1960s, newspapers published ads for jobs on different pages, segregated by gender. Employers legally paid women less than men for the same work. Some bars refused to serve women and all banks denied married women credit or loans, a practice which didn’t change until 1974. Some states even excluded women from jury duty.

“Radio producers considered women’s voices too abrasive to be on the air and television executives believed that women didn’t have sufficient credibility to anchor the news. Few women ran big corporations or universities, or worked as firefighters and police officers. None sat on the Supreme Court, installed electrical equipment, climbed telephone poles, or owned construction companies. All hurricanes had female names, due to the widely held view that women brought chaos and destruction to society.

“As late as 1970, Dr. Edgar Berman, a consultant to presidents and to Medicare, proclaimed on television that women were too tortured by hormonal disturbances to assume the presidency. Few people ran into women professors, doctors, or lawyers. Everyone addressed a woman as either Miss or Mrs, depending on her marital status, and if a woman needed an abortion, legal nowhere in America, she risked her life searching among quacks in back alleys for a competent and compassionate doctor.”

 

Complete story at: http://mondediplo.com/openpage/you-ve-come-a-long-way-baby-or-have-you

 

Drinking patterns seem to be changing

Ace Metrix® today announced the Brand of the Year Watch List, a compilation of the leading TV brand advertisers in 2012 covering the automotive (luxury and non-luxury), beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), candies & snacks, financial services, general business, household, insurance, packaged foods, personal care, restaurants, retail, technology (including computer hardware & software, mobile devices, and video games), and telecommunications industries.  The top five brands in each industry can be seen below and at acemetrix.com.

“This year’s race for Brand of the Year has been impacted by several factors, including the state of the economy, events like the Olympics, as well as just plain old clever marketing strategies that have boosted some brands significantly, particularly in the beverage, restaurant, technology, and general business sectors,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. “One key example of an economic influence on brand choice is in the restaurant sector, which has seen stellar performance this year with every advertiser in the Top 5 achieving an average Ace Score in the 600s.  Casual dining restaurants, which have seen the highest scores, represent a small luxury that Americans can indulge in, with many of the ads touting value as a key selling point.”

Other leading themes seen this year in the race for Brand of the Year include:

Beverages

  • Big U.S. beer brands like Budweiser, Miller and Coors are noticeably absent from the list of front-runners for alcoholic beverage Brand of the Year.  On the other hand, craft brewers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams have performed exceptionally well this year and are featured prominently on the Watch List.  This is a stark comparison to the beer brands that led the Most Effective list in 2011, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light.
  • Soda brands have faltered in 2012, with brands like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper falling out of Watch List contention.  Aside from the iconic Coca-Cola brand (also a Summer Olympic sponsor), three of the top five non-alcoholic brands thus far are non-soda drinks,­ including Ocean Spray, Tropicana and Gatorade.

 

For complete story, see: acemetrix.com.

Even worse than hating your body

It’s not great secret that fashion ads portray women and men unrealistically, promoting unachievable standards of beauty and reinforcing stereotypical codes of gender identity. This week one story is getting a fair amount of play, as a Christian Dior ad featuring Black Swan actor Natalie Portman has been banned in Great Britain for being airbrushed. At first it seemed that the British Advertising Standards Authority was irked at the ad featuring Portman promoting a mascara, accompanied by the boast that the product delivers a “spectacular volume-multiplying effect, lash by lash.” But it turns out that rival L’Oreal cosmetics first noticed the ad and filed a complaint. As The Guardian reports, ironically L’Oreal has been one of the biggest offenders in controversies over airbrushed and exaggerated beauty ads in recent years, with ads Continue reading “Even worse than hating your body”